On Being Intentional

By Shaun McKenzie, Executive Coach. One of my favorite movie scenes is from Apollo 13. The crisis has moderated and the astronauts are peering out the small round porthole of the lunar lander, looking wistfully at the moon, adrift, realizing they would not achieve their goal of actually walking on the moon. Tom Hanks, who played Jim Lovell, the mission commander, breaks out of his trance and says to his fellow pioneers, “Gentlemen, I need to know your intention.” He then shares his very personal goal of reuniting with his wife and family. It was a pivotal moment for the crew. Jim Lovell created a necessary focus of intention for his crew that brought all three astronauts home for the world to embrace.

Intentionality is the key to our growth and development. Working with a coach will help you to focus you on your goals. It’s not easy. Many of us have relied on our current knowledge, skills and behaviors to achieve our current success. We have mastered these familiar traits and we deploy them with comfort and confidence. 

The question to ask is will these current traits serve you in the future? Will there be unexpected obstacles in your career that will require more creative thinking? How is the world going to expect you to manifest yourself as a leader tomorrow?

Intentionality is having a crystal clear vision of who you want to become. The fascinating thing about intentionality is that when we focus our thoughts and energy the universe will honor you. Intention is defined as “a thing intended; an aim or plan.” The power of intention is the power of a focused mind. Focusing our mental energy on a specific goal or outcome allows you to align your behaviors and action to the outcome.

Our intention creates our reality.
~ Wayne Dyer

Recently, I spoke to a group of leaders about internalizing our locus of control. The first step in being more intentional is to realize that we do not need to be the victim of external forces, tossed and turned by events and encounters. We have control and perhaps better said, influence over our lives. It’s a dance with reality and sometimes you get to lead.

Your life is made up of choices. Each new day brings opportunities for growth. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. 

Here are a few suggestions for being more intentional and achieving your goals.

  • Decide what you want or who you want to be. In 1995 after gaining my certification in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I wrote my epithet, my vision for my life. I shared it with five people close to me to hold me accountable. I refuse to let someone at my funeral make up a story about my life. I wrote the script. I’m an actor in my own play. BTW, it’s a musical. 
  • Be clear on your personal “why.” Why is a change important for career, relationships, wealth or your community. There are only six questions in life — Who?, What?, Where?, When?, How? and the most important question, Why?. Once you have created a compelling why, all the other questions (and answers) magically fall in line.
  • Reflect objectively on your current state. Where are you now on your journey? Explore the gaps in your will, skill and attitudes. Be realistic and objective. The skills that brought you here now, may not take you in the future. 
  • Visualize your future state. Consider the future state in vivid colors, clear details and constructive encounters with others. See yourself interacting with people with confidence and competence. My passion is racing cars. Five minutes before I start a race I sit in the car, the seat belts are tight on my chest and with the engine crackling, I close my eyes and visualize a safe start, passing cars effortlessly and (perhaps) I’ll be standing on the podium with joy and pride in my achievement.
  • Be abundant. There is plenty of room and resources for your vision. Practice self-compassion. Love yourself, those people close to you and people afar. Love is co-operation not competition. You were intended out of love. 

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
~Marianne Williamson

Finally, true intention takes persistence. Lean in and be patient with yourself. Intentionality is a continuous, consistent use of the mind in a focused manner. Find a partner to walk with you on the journey, to bolster you when you lose focus and to celebrate with you when you achieve your goal.

Shaun McKenzie is a coach, leadership facilitator and licensed BMW CCA Club Racer. Most importantly he’s a husband to Denise and father to Dylan. To learn more about intention, focus, and purposeful goal-setting, schedule a consultation with Shaun.

Shaun McKenzie, executive coach, Arden Coaching, leading with intention, intentionality, focus, focusing on goals, goal, purpose

Thanks Shaun. Intentionality is such an important mindset. I especially like your suggestions about visualization and visualizing your future state!